Happy New Year From Comcast: Price Hikes And Misleading Fees For Everybody

from the more-of-the-same dept

Comcast certainly had quite a year. When it wasn’t busy failing to justify its latest attempted mega merger or criticizing bloggers for calling its top lobbyist a lobbyist, the company continued to deliver what’s statistically the worst customer service of any company in the United States. This is before you consider the company’s latest efforts to expand usage caps, and use those usage caps to give their own streaming services a leg up, while payrolling the industry’s attempt to kill net neutrality protections.

As a bow on the shit show that was Comcast in 2015, the company is spreading good cheer for the new year in the only way it knows how: major rate hikes for nearly all of the company’s services. The company is not only jacking up the costs of most of its TV services, it’s raising the rates on most Comcast installer “services”, from installing a new coax jack to the fees charged for upgrading or downgrading your service packages. Also being hiked is the company’s relatively-recent (and aggressively misleading) “broadcast TV fee”:

“Comcast also will hike a “broadcast TV fee” by 66 percent to $5 a month from $3. This relatively new fee covers the cost of retransmission fees that over-the-air broadcast TV networks – CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox – charge cable companies for distributing their networks on pay-TV systems. Retransmission fees and sports are the two biggest inflationary-costs pressures in TV bills, according to industry observers and Comcast executives.”

Except, as the report fails to note, these programming costs are simply the cost of doing business — and should be included in the advertised rate. Instead, companies like Comcast tuck this bogus fee below the line to covertly jack up the advertised price post sale. Of course, cable operators are quick to proclaim that programmers are solely responsible for users’ soaring cable bills, but as you’ll note the cost of everything is going up at Comcast/NBC, from the cost you’ll pay for installer service to the $4 (previously $3) you have to pay for digital adapters.

Clinging to one of the stalest and most insulting price hike justifications in the industry, Comcast claimed the cost increases were necessary to provide that amazing “customer experience” its customers consistently complain they don’t get:

“Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander said the company continues to invest in its network and technology “and to give customers more for their money – like faster Internet service and more WiFi hot spots, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1, and a better customer experience.”

Right. That’s the same “customer experience” that’s so consistently awful, the company’s dysfunction goes viral on almost a weekly basis. Some companies are content just aggressively milking the legacy markets they’ve dominated quietly. Comcast’s a different animal entirely, aggressively pushing the barrier on new and amazing anti-competitive ideas with relentless aplomb. The company’s political muscle ensured regulators turned a blind eye for much of the last decade, but Comcast’s attempt to protect this legacy empire with usage caps, overage fees, and zero rating its own streaming services — may finally gift the company with a 2016 run in with the FCC.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Happy New Year From Comcast: Price Hikes And Misleading Fees For Everybody”

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24 Comments
Violynne (profile) says:

I guess that merger attempt really was expensive.

My prediction for 2016: not a damn thing will change. The FCC will balk at these price hikes and the FTC (the only regulatory power to actually take the teeth out of companies) will whine and bitch the FCC stole its thunder to “protect” consumers.

I also see the company changing its tagline: “Good luck with that.”

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Come one, come all

Seriously, you can finally get what you really really want for just a little bit more. Give it a try!*

*Price increases reflect our need to show greater revenue despite egregious customer behavior (no don’t call it abandonment). Reference’s to past decades of failure to provide what they paid for should be referred to the preferred sucker department for enhanced handling.

Anonymous Coward says:

the run in with the FCC is long over due but even longer over due is a total bollocking of all those in Congress that started Comcast down this road by preventing competition and still doing whatever they can to stop new competition and innovation! get that stopped and maybe then the USA could start to achieve something other than the name it’s got for itself over broadband services, as almost the very worst in all the supposed democratic countries on the planet!

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re:

What amuses me is that these same people love to trumpet the supremacy of “the market,” loudly proclaiming that it will only take what it can bear.

What this means in practice is “take it or leave it” is the only option in a socio-economic regime that demands internet as a part of daily life and business.

Since when does “Over a barrel” mean “freedom?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Retransmission fees - that can't be avoided

It’s funny, I’ve got an amped antenna that gets around 45 channels for all the tv’s not connected to cable. (Still have cable for sports and a few other channels)
So I get the channels for free already, but still have to pay a few bucks for the cable company to mix them in on their service – and can’t cancel that portion of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

techdirt.com
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firefox has blocked parts of this page that are not secure
this page uses weak encrption
Broken Encryption (TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256, 128 bit keys, TLS1.2)
Firefox 42.0
ISP *******
Everything else seems to be as it should.
Haven’t seen this before today.
Hope it isn’t part of a registration drive.

DannyB (profile) says:

That's some cool double dipping there Comcast/NBC

NBC can raise what it charges its affiliate stations.

Affiliate stations want more from cable TV operators, like Comcast.

So Comcast charges more.

So is Comcast/NBC double dipping?

(I mean other double dipping than NBC retransmission fees being a cost of business, yet also then added as a separate line item on your bill.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Lots of people have no option but Comcast if they want broadband internet. Those people are trapped, not stupid.

I’ve been one of those people for five years now, but I am finally able to move to a city where I can ditch Comcast completely. This is a fantastic start. I can’t wait to finally be rid of those assholes, and I’ll do my very best to never have to give them a dime again.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: whine, whine.. oh don't forget to pay your bill

Well I guess mesh networking is an option for people who know how to do it…

But when the only broadband provider is Comcast that’s where you have to go. Regulatory lock-in has seen to that. “Take it or leave it” is not an option in a world where you need internet to get things done. This attitude is proof that you know damn well there’s no such thing as a free market but don’t flippin’ care.

Anonymous Coward says:

They say they record your conversations except...

…when it works against them! My monthly contract was going up. I called customer solutions and negotiated a price including taxes and equipment charges. When I got the bill it was significantly higher. They said they would escalate it to customer solutions. When they argued with me that it was impossible to have given me this price (I negotiated with a supervisor) I said it was just a month ago, check the recording you keep. Oh, well we don’t have access to the recording because it was made with a supervisor. Oh, then contact that supervisor. Oh, we don’t record conversations with supervisors. Really, then I want out of my contract because you’re not honoring it. Oh, well, we’ll give you a one-time credit for XXXXX because we didn’t keep the recording. End of the day, it’s all BS and when this contract is up, they are gone.

JBDragon (profile) says:

The more they keep jacking up rates like this, the more people will flee! I cut the cord 3-4 years ago. All I pay for these days is Internet service.

The whole retransmition fee’s thing is a load of crap. Why cable company’s have to pay to send people a better signal in some cases that’s FREE with a antenna. It’s no different. They still get money form their Ad’s. I just don’t get it. Myself, first thing I did when I got my house and throw up a nice large Antenna on the roof, get all my ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, PBS in HD and 5.1 surround and the picture is better then cable, and better yet then satellite. Plus all the other FREE channels like MeTV, and AntennaTV, etc. Lots of Movies and older TV series that are still good and maybe new to you if you never watch them.

With my Tivo Roamio I got a few months back for $299 which included Lifetime service. (The new BOLT is just crazy high) I can record up to 4 programs at once. I can watch in my other rooms on Tivo Mini’s that stream it from the Roamio. I can FF though all the commercials and with the Tivo Stream Box, I can stream that content to my iOS devices at home or away on the internet for FREE. All 100% LEGAL!!!

Throw in Netflix, which is really all you need, and you have a ton of content. Lots of Original Content on Netflix and a ton coming in 2016. Like Game of Thrones on HBO, wait for the season to be over and Sign up for a month with HBO Now at $15 and binge watch the whole season and anything else for that month and it’ll only cost you that $15, and not $180 for a year!!! These are the things to do to save move. Keep it in your own pocket, don’t give it all to Comcast of all places.

I used to pay Comcast $170 a year for HD TV service with a dual HD DVR Tuner and so so Internet service. That’s it. 1 TV, only me at the time. Now I’m currently paying Comcast $50 a month for 105Mbps service which is like 5 times the speed I used to have before canceling them and going U-Verse. That’s $120 a month savings. I had Netflix before I cut the cord so I don’t consider that a extra cost.

$120, maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you? That’s $1,440 in 1 year. How long to people keep cable? YEARS? If prices didn’t go up, in a short 10 years, that’s $14,400 given away to Comcast and for what? Mostly crap channels you don’t want but are forced to get because that 1 channel is only in that big channel bundle!!!

If you just have to have Sports, Sign up for SlingTV at $20 a month for the first bundle and ESPN is included. There’s your Monday Night Football or whatever if you need it. I get enough Sports on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, whatever.

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